Swami Ramanand Ji

swami ramanand ji"I am a sacrifice to You, O my True Guru.
You have cut through all my confusion and doubt."

Swami Ramanand Ji is considered a pioneer of the great Bhakti Movement in Northern India. He had also been regarded as the bridge between the Bhakti Movement of the South and North. Though a Brahmin by birth, he did not entertain any sense of pride because of his caste. The above scene depicts the Swami and Bhagat Pipa Ji who received divine enlightenment by the grace of Swami Ramanand Ji.

Swami Ramanand is rightly regarded as an eminent of the bhagati movement in northern India and as a distinguished leader of the Bhairagi Movement. He was a follower of Swami Ragavacharya of the Ramanuj Movement (1017-1137). In the later part of his life the Archarya commanded more respect than even his own Guru and came to be known as an exponent of Rama Bhagati.

Born in 1366, Ramanand was the son of Bhoor Karma and Sushila. He was mystically inclined from his early childhood. Acharya Ragavnand, showed him the path of Yog sadhna. Ramanand also visited places of pilgrimage such as Kanshi, where as mark of respect, people built a memorial that stands there to this day. After his pilgrimage, Ramanand realised that God can be worshipped by everyone whereas his Guru Archarya Ragavnand, who comes from the Sadhu Varna Ashrama believe that not everyone is entitled to perform Puja Bhagati.

Hence he started preaching his gospel in Kanshi and imbued many devotees with the spirit of Bhagati. Kabir was the most renowned amongst his disciples. Ravi das, Sain, Dhanna and Pipa are believed to be his followers even though all of them were not his contemporaries.

Ramanand was a learned Pandit. Many of his books such as Sri Vaishnava, Matanbuj Bhaskar, Sri Ramarachan Padhti are still available. One of his hymns has been inserted in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib under Rag Basant.

Bhagat Ramanand was the Guru, or spiritual teacher, of Bhagat Kabir and a disciple of Raghavanada, a known preacher of the Ramanuja tradition started by Ramanuja, a Tamilian by birth & the founder of the Rama bhagati or devotion to Lord Rama. Ramanand was born in AD1366 under a tree. The followers of Ramanand hold this tree in as much reverence as they do his real mother, Sushil by name. He spent all the 101 years of his life at his birth-place Kashi, (allahbad-Prayag, a holy city of Hindus, according to researchers) devoting every moment to the remembrance of Divine Name. He provided a new tone & tenor to the Bhagati movement. He saw that the contemporary society was drifting towards a particular direction under the influence of Lord Krishna's life as it was enacted in every village and town. Therefore he made successful endeavours to divert this mass tendency of the people, towards Rama-worship. Ramanand was above caste consideration, and therefore he initiated to his idealogy, people even from the so-called low castes. He also started several new trends in Vaishnava bhagati, the most important of which is that everybody has the right to worship God. As a result of this altruistic gesture on his part, the stream of Rama-Name flowed even up to the cottages of the poorest of the poor and the lowliest of the low. Consequently, the spiritual life of those so-called low people got elevated. In the society, which was then bound in the shackles of the caste-system, such utterances had revolutionary effects. As it was, Brahmins were the only community which had the birth right to perform various rituals & observances connected with religion. But the liberal attitude adopted on the part of Ramanand led the Vairagi (a renouncer) tradition to accept him as their prominent Acharya (Hindu religious teacher). In this way, a new sect among the Vairagis under the name of Ramadatt came into being. This sect stressed celibacy, physical prowess & intense devotion to God. Gradually, Ramanand drifted from Vaishnavism to the worship of One Formless Lord.

Ramanand had several disciples who guided mankind on the way to bhagati (worshipping). Bhagat Pipa was one of his prominent disciples. Pipa was a king who gave up his ego & came under the patronage to seek spiritual guidance. As a king, he served his subject to their utmost welfare. Bhagat Ramanand also wandered about in Pipa's kingdom for some time. On the basis of his first-hand knowledge, he testified that was as a good a saint as he was a ruler. In his regime, all subjects enjoyed peace, justice and material comforts irrespective of caste or class.

Ramanand has only one hymn included in SGGS ji under Basant measure. Outside the Sikh Scripture, two more compositions of Ramanand are extant. These works are said to be of high literary value. These are: Sri Vaisnav Matanbuj Bhaskar & Sri Ramacharan Padhati.

Shabad from Ramanand in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib

Where should I go?
My home is filled with bliss.
My consciousness does not go out wandering.
My mind has become crippled. || 1 || Pause ||
One day, a desire welled up in my mind.
I ground up sandalwood, along with several fragrant oils.
I went to God’s place, and worshipped Him there.
That God showed me the Guru, within my own mind. || 1 ||
Wherever I go, I find water and stones.
You are totally pervading and permeating in all.
I have searched through all the Vedas and the Puraanas.
I would go there, only if the Lord were not here. || 2 ||
I am a sacrifice to You, O my True Guru.
You have cut through all my confusion and doubt.
Raamanand’s Lord and Master is the All-pervading Lord God.
The Word of the Guru’s Shabad eradicates the karma of millions of past actions. || 3 || 1 ||
(SGGS, 1195)

Extracted from Gurbani De Racheta by S Abnashi Singh and Gurvinder Singh.
Published by: Gaganmai Thaal International,Jandiala Guru,Amritsar